illusion of Transparency
When we experience strong emotions, we often believe, falsely, that other people can detect those emotions, even if we try to hide them. This false belief, that others can “see through us” and know even our innermost feelings that we try to hide, is called the illusion of transparency. Why are we susceptible to such an illusion? Why do we sometimes believe that our feelings are more obvious to others than they really are? Research suggests that the reason is this: when our emotions are very strong, we focus on them very intently and are extremely aware of them. This heightened awareness of our own feelings causes us to assume that they must be obvious to others as well.
Now listen to part of a lecture in a psychology class.
Now, before we get into some of the research in this area, let me tell you about something that just happened to me that that's a good example of this. The other night, I was invited to a dinner party at a friend's house.
Now you should know that this friend, Mary, she's a really great cook. And I was really looking forward to this dinner. So that night, everything was going great until she served the main dish. I could tell from the smell that she'd used a certain spice that I really dislike. It's garlic. I can't stand even the smell of it. And it was clear that this dish had a lot of garlic in it. Now of course I didn't want to offend my friend. I didn't want her to know I didn't like the food. So I tried to behave normally and eat as much as I could. But I was sure she could tell I wasn't enjoying it. Well later, I was walking home with another friend, Mike, he'd also been at the dinner. I started telling him how worried I was that I had offended Mary. I told him you know about how I really hated garlic and how I was sure that Mary had noticed that I didn't like the meal that I was sure I had insulted our host. Well He was really surprised. He hadn't noticed that at all. In fact, he thought I seemed to be enjoying the meal. That made me feel a little better.
But anyway, the next day I called Mary to thank her for inviting me to the dinner. She was really pleased and talked about how nice the party was and how glad she was that everyone had liked the food so much. There was pretty clear from our conversation that she hadn't noticed anything. I guess my feelings hadn't been as obvious to marry or to Mike as I thought they were.
Explain how the professors experience at the dinner party illustrates the illusion of transparency
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